Mark Lange, President and CEO of the National Cotton Council, hit the highlights of the farm bill that finally passed the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees Jan. 27, and then cast a wider net to address issues with China, the World Trade Organization, Peru and a new initiative to support U.S. and Australian cotton.

“It took three years to get a farm bill,” Lange said in the opening address at the inaugural Red River Crops Conference in Altus.

He praised Oklahoma Representative Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, for his leadership and persistence in pushing for legislation that would provide farmers with a needed safety net.

He noted some changes, including the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), that will not take full effect until next year. “Producers will have the option to purchase STAX or a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) on all acres planted to cotton.”

A $125,000 payment limitation is in place for Title I programs but not insurance payments. Also, an adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation of $900,000 will be in place, but that will not include crop insurance subsidies.

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Labor requirements to be eligible  for “actively engaged” status has been dropped but the provision  “authorizes the Secretary to define what constitutes a significant contribution of management; and the Secretary has the discretion to establish a limit on who may be considered actively engaged when a significant contribution of management is used to meet the actively engaged requirements.

“The new management requirements for actively engaged do not apply to individuals or entities comprised solely of family members.”

The Market Assistance Loan remains in place.

Lange said the legislation is different from previous farm bills and will require considerable time for the USDA to write the rules.